Do women use more passive language in the workplace than men? Do men get assigned more work than women? Hoping to bring insight to those questions and more, Hive, a collaboration and project management platform, has released a new study on gender in the workplace focusing on the behaviors and habits of men and women at work. The results both reaffirm and challenge current cultural notions on the state of gender equality in the workplace.
The study surveyed 3,000 men and women across different workplaces using anonymized data. It looked at everything from who gets assigned more work, who sends more messages, who uses what kind of language and how does all of that affect productivity. Essentially, is there gender imbalance in workplace contributions? Like any study regarding gender in the workplace, the results don’t boil down to a simple “yes” or “no.”
Let’s start with messaging. Some studies say interruptions from messages and messaging apps at work can affect concentration, with one study suggesting that leads to a 20 percent decrease in performance. Based on Hive’s study, women send 20 percent more messages via chat than men. However, they complete 10 percent more work.
What about—so sorry to bring this up—passive language? Do women apologize more than men at work? Hive’s results found that men and women said the word “sorry” nearly an equal amount. (0.7 percent of messages sent by women included the word “sorry” compared to 0.64 percent of men.)
Do men work more than women? Hive’s study found while men work more on weekends than women but still complete less work over the course of the week.
Perhaps most importantly, how does this affect workplace productivity and contributions at work? Hive’s study found that women both complete more work on average than men and are assigned more work. Women are assigned 55 percent of work while men are assigned 45 percent.
“Gender equality in the workplace is a multifaceted issue,” Pooja Hoffman, Hive’s Director of Marketing, said in a press release for the report. “It’s difficult to solve what we don’t know, which is why identifying data points wherever we can is a hugely important step in the right direction. This report is a temperature check — it’s only the beginning for what’s possible with productivity data, and proof that we can use insights as the basis for tackling some of the biggest issues of our time.”
So, if women contribute more at work, why doesn’t that lead to women moving up in the workplace? A 2017 study from Harvard Business Review looked to answer that exact question specifically through the lens of how men and women are treated differently in the workplace. The results mirror that of Hive’s recent study: men and women behavior similarly yet are still treated differently.
While Hive’s recent study showed statistical differences in certain behavior (who sends more messages, who uses what language) the difference in workplace productivity between men and women poses interesting questions about why women are consistently overlooked for leadership roles. A recent report from Harvard Business Review reiterated the fact that women receive less recognition at work or, worse, are punished for behaviors rewarded in men (being “pushy” versus being “proactive”).
To reiterate the results of the 2017 study from Harvard Business Review, regardless of how women behave at work, they are treated differently. Likewise, the results from Hive’s recent study challenge some explanations for why there aren’t more women in leadership roles. Women contribute more, are even assigned more work, yet the leadership gap still persists.
While these studies may not point to one specific problem, one gender equality switch workplaces can simply flip on, they do reaffirm the fact that we have a ways to go specifically in how we view women at work. Rather than asking whether it's women's behavior that impact their progress at work, how much they contribute or how productive they are, perhaps we should be asking why those contributions aren't being recognized enough.